General Mills CMO predicts ‘amorphous’ agencies in the future

Speaking about the future of agencies at the recent Advertising Week, General Mills CMO Ivan Pollard suggested that clients, and particularly consumer packaged goods (CPGs), need partners who can do three things: draw up big, breakthrough creative ideas, use their external voice to generate insights that brands cannot see themselves, and leverage data and analytics to convert those insights into business drivers.

Pollard also predicted how the working model of agencies will change. He suggested that automation will take over functions related to finance, legal services and human resources, and that media buying could get “outsourced completely to machines.”

Automation will also increasingly creep into the creative process, with the best agency talent being able to layer old world ad knowledge on top of a new technology toolkit.

Pollard, who worked in the agency space for years at firms like Wieden & Kennedy before moving client-side, sees future agencies tapping outside networks of experts to fill in the gaps for skills they do not have, citing industrial design or e-commerce marketing as examples where outside expertise could be leveraged.

The gig economy, which rough estimates pin at comprising around 75 million workers in the U.S., could play a larger role in supporting those networks and the small core creative teams that Pollard believes agencies must preserve moving forward.

Pollard’s forecasts suggest that trends that have started to disrupt the agency sector in recent years will continue to accelerate, with a higher premium put on data and analytical capabilities from clients and the further consolidation of vast, complex agency networks.

Major deals this year have supported the executive’s predictions on the former front: Publicis acquired the data marketing firm Epsilon for $4 billion in July, making for one of the largest deals in agency history and a similar move to prior acquisitions by Dentsu and IPG.

“There is going to be a talent pool that does want to work that way, that doesn’t need the structure of an old fashioned agency,” Pollard said. “The agency of the future will be one that we can’t pin down structurally. It’s amorphous.”

Pollard also said that agencies must work harder to win back his trust and money. Even as much of the executive’s thoughts were focused on the future of agency work, he touted the benefits of more traditional means of operating, albeit with a technology-oriented approach.

Source: Marketing Dive

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